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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1

A no-excuses "enthusiast" camera from Sony: 5 megapixels, 4x zoom, fast AF, and features galore

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 04/18/2003, Updated: 7/1/2003

Stepping out on the digicam scene with a new, boxy body style, the DSC-V1 resembles more traditional 35mm rangefinders in its looks. With its rectangular body, the V1 has a more angular appearance than its more streamlined Cyber-shot cousins. Still, the V1 is compact and portable, and maximizes its external real estate with a healthy number of external controls. Just about the right size for larger coat pockets and purses, the V1 is handy for travel and comes with an extra wide wrist strap.

The large lens barrel dominates the front panel of the V1. When powered on, the lens extends from the barrel five-eighths of an inch into its operating position. A shutter-like lens cover automatically slides open and closed, eliminating the need for a separate lens cap. Filter threads inside the lip of the lens barrel accommodate an adapter that makes available a range of Sony accessory lenses, which extend the camera's zoom capabilities at each end of its focal length range. Aside from the lens, the optical viewfinder window, microphone, and self-timer/IR LEDs are on the front of the camera. A finger grip protrudes from the camera front as well, providing a firm hold for your right hand as it grasps the camera.

The right panel of the V1 (as viewed from the rear) features only one of the eyelets used for attaching a neck or wrist strap. At the bottom of the right panel, the edge of the Memory Stick / battery compartment door is visible.

The V1's left panel features the other strap attachment eyelet, as well as the "ACC" Sony accessory connection jack, and the connector compartment. A hinged, rigid plastic door covers the connector compartment, where the USB, A/V Out, and DC In connector jacks are located.

The camera's top panel would be flat except for the protruding Mode dial, NightShot / NightFraming switch, and external flash hot shoe. A matte-silver Shutter button is located in the center of the Mode dial, and a small Power button sits just to the left. A small green LED to the left of the Mode dial and below the Power button indicates both the Power status and the Mode selection. The camera's pop-up flash closes flush with the top panel, and is automatically released depending on the flash mode you've chosen. (You have to manually close the flash, however.)

The remaining camera controls are located on the V1's rear panel, along with the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder eyepiece. Three LEDs are aligned along the left side of the eyepiece, and light or blink to indicate camera status (such as autofocus trouble, charging flash, memory card access, etc.) On the left side of the eyepiece are the AE Lock, Focus, and Exposure Compensation / Index buttons, just above the LCD monitor. A Zoom rocker button is in the top right corner. The Display button is beneath the lower right corner of the eyepiece, adjacent to the Command dial that adjusts several exposure settings. Below these is the Four Way Arrow pad and OK button, the arrow keys of which perform multiple functions. Finally, the Menu and Image Size / Erase buttons are at the bottom of the panel.

The bottom panel of the V1 is nice and flat, with an all-metal tripod mount just off-center, the camera's speaker, and the Memory Stick / battery compartment on the far right. A hinged, plastic door covers the compartment, and slides out before opening. One of my few complaints about the V1 is that the Memory Stick / battery compartment is too close to the tripod mount to allow quick changes without dismounting the camera. (I always notice this, given the amount of studio work I do, and find it particularly important with feature-laden cameras like this one.)



An obvious comparison to make with the DSC-V1 is Canon's very popular PowerShot G3. Since I happened to have a G3 on hand as I was writing this review, I thought readers would find the comparison photos above interesting. The V1 is clearly the smaller of the two by a good bit, a fact somewhat offset by the more flexible tilt/swivel LCD and longer battery life of the G3.


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